Desktop Applications

Terminal Emulators

  • aterm – light and fast and supports pseudo transparency
  • eterm – terminal emulator for Enlightenment.
  • rxvt – aterm, eterm, urxvt and mrxvt all derive from this great piece of software.
  • urxvt – rxvt with unicode support, if you need it.
  • mrxvt – multi rxvt. supports multiple tabs. I use it all the time.
  • xterm – this is not as light as rxvt and its derivatives, but I list it simply because its the original and still popular with some people.

File Management

  • PCManFM – light and fast. supports thumbnails and drag & drop. tabbed browsing
  • xfe – windows look and feel. built-in support for mount/unmount. supports thumbnails and drag & drop. It also has integrated deb and rpm package viewers. Integrated text editor/viewer (with xfv/xfw) & image viewer(with xfi)
  • emelFM – two pane browsing. lightning fast. built in command line. simple to use.
  • Midnight Commander – command line. I haven’t used it personally, but those who have, vouch for it šŸ™‚
  • clex – again a command line app. simple interface and easy to use
  • rox-filer – I am not a big fan of it, but it is quite popular. It also has a rox-desktop package which allows for other features that are not included in the file manager itself, like desktop icons and such.

Package Management

  • Aptitude – cli based. its a nifty tool and if you are willing to learn a few shortcuts its pretty handy.
  • pacman – the package management tool for Arch.
  • Synaptic, Adept – I just mention these so as to show who the competitors for Aptitude are. Synaptic and Adept depend on quite a few Gnome and KDE libraries respectively and are not lightweight at all.

System Tools/Monitoring

  • Conky – amazing software. controlled by a simple text file. Many config files readily available. rss support, time & date, memory monitoring etc.
  • Gkrellm – lots of available plugins. highly configurable.
  • top – cli app to monitor the running applications and the memory usage etc.
  • htop – much like top but more interactive
  • hdparm – for changing hard drive parameters
  • sudo – allows for the user to execute administrative commands without having to become root.


I have no use for email clients since I prefer the web based emails more. I have listed some of the apps here that “I think/others say” are lightweight. I haven’t used any of these apps for a long period of time to be able to judge about its footprint myself.

  • mutt – cli based email client. As with most cli apps, this is as fast as you can get.
  • slypheed – GTK based.
  • claws – supports multiple accounts. GTK based. This is a fork of the sylpheed-claws client


  • gFTP – GTK2. also provides a console version. simple to use
  • Midnight Commander – the file manager also provides ftp
  • lftp – console based.

Torrent client

  • rTorrent – powerful cli torrent client. There should be no other !! Do check out the user guide and man pages to find out about its great features.
  • Transmission – I told you there should be none other than rtorrent, but if you have to have GUI, then this is a lightweight gui client. GTK based.

Instant Messaging

I haven’t found a truly lightweight instant messenger which I would like to use. I will just list the Instant messengers that I have used in the past. Hopefully there may be some lightweight apps in the future. There are a few cli based apps for Instant Messaging, but c’mon admit it, when you IM, you want all the bells and whistles like webcam support, mic support etc. etc. and that is not going to be lightweight.

  • Pidgin – the most popular IM in the Linux world. Supports a host of networks.
  • Skype – good for voice and video conversation especially with the latest version.
  • xChat – popular for IRC
  • aMSN – connects to the MSN network
  • Kopete – default IM for KDE. Also connects to a variety of networks
  • emesene – connects to the MSN network

Internet browsers

There are lightweight browsers, but they are not customizable. Some do not support flash and/or java. So you will most likely have to use a heavy browser like Firefox or one of its derivatives or Opera etc.

  • Dillo – lightweight. Its also the browser of choice for DSL.
  • Kazehakase – the default browser for Fluxbuntu
  • elinks – text only browser
  • links2 – text and graphical browser. Has javascript support. Does not support CSS, flash and java.

Music Players and Sound related

  • cplay – cli based player. simple and elegant interface. playlist support.
  • mpd + gmpc/sonata/ncmpc – music server and client gui to control music over a network
  • moc – music on console.
  • easytag – id3v tag editor. great music management
  • xmms2 – cli and gui versions. much like mpd, it allows various clients to connect and allow remote controlling of your music.

Video players

  • VLC – very good video player. plays most of the extensions.
  • mplayer – also quite popular in Linux distros.

Text Editors

  • Leafpad – very few dependencies. Great for simple text editing.
  • nano – command line app. pretty decent.
  • vi – again a command line app.
  • vim – vi improved
  • scite – nice editor which supports a lot of languages like Ruby, Perl, PHP, Java, C, C++ to name a few.
  • epdfview, xpdf – pdf viewers.

Image Viewers

  • Mirage – fast lightweight
  • feh – nice app. ability to set wallpapers. Great add-on to a WM that does not have built in wallpaper support
  • xzgv – image viewer

File Archivers

  • Squeeze – a nice little file archiver that supports a lot of file types. You need to have the respective CLI packages installed on the machine to be able to open those types of files. Aimed at making a lightweight file archiver for Xfce.
  • Xarchiver – much the same as Squeeze and needs the corresponding CLI packages to be able to support different file types like rar, zip, bzip2 etc. Does not support ace. Also a part of the Xfce development.
  • Xarchive – Not to be confused with the above. Again, like the two above, this is just a front end to the command line archiving tools. This supports ace files as well.

CD/DVD Burners

The only thing I use CD burners are to burn the different distros that I keep trying. All of the below work with burning iso images. Some do not support DVD video, but I guess that works for me.

  • xcdroast – CD/DVD writing. DVD video is experimental. Does not work with the latest cdrtools, although there are patches available.
  • xfburn – part of Xfce development. Currently under heavy development.
  • graveman – nice GUI program for CD burning. Does not support DVD video burning, but they say they will. No updates on the website since 2006. I don’t know if its being developed still.
  • recorder – need to compile from source. small footprint.

Office Software

All office apps are pretty heavy and so I just use the Google Docs for all general purpose word/excel/presentation files. Available software in linux are:

Misceallaneous apps

  • ssh – secure remote logins, Will be in every distribution’s repository
  • rsync – quick backups
  • samba – share files and printers. Should be in every repository
  • rdesktop – remote desktop

2 Responses to “Desktop Applications”

  1. Finch is a lightweight version of pidgin, also based on the same libpurple. Runs entirely from the command line. Still not incredibly lightweight, but better than the gui interface.

  2. […] list was taken from here then built upon as i found new items. Some of this list is geared more towards the ubuntu flavor, […]

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